Emergency situations happen all the time. And when emergencies happen, often communication channels can be compromised. In everything from earthquakes to fires to maybe just a really crowded concert, the need to communicate can quickly become more prevalent when it is most difficult to accomplish.
Making sure that communication channels are as open as possible, for as long as possible in these situations, is a huge part of emergency response. That's where HazAdapt comes in.
We built a mobile application for HazAdapt that is meant to assist with communication in emergency situations when other communication channels break down, with emphasis on assisting in college campuses. The offline communication works by utilizing beacons placed within campus buildings that emit their own WiFi hotspot signals that don't depend on existing WiFi or cellular. In addition, the plan for future beacons includes battery backups to allow them to work for extended time when the power goes out. Using the app, anyone can connect to the beacons if they are near one. The user can then read and send messages in a local chat room. This messaging service can help someone who is, for example, trapped in a building, but doesn't have a regular wireless signal. When emergency responders connect to the chat room, they will be able to see calls for help and even ask clarifying questions, such as location or severity of the situation.
The work we've done on this app will eventually be picked up by the core team at HazAdapt and be merged into a larger mobile app. The beacons we helped develop will be built upon further by the core team as well.
Our project partner is Virginia Katz. Her HazAdapt work was initially funded through the OSU Advantage Accelerator Program at OSU (see https://www.linkedin.com/company/hazadapt/).
|A collection of 4 screenshots of the current HazAdapt Offline Communications app's UI